By MICHELE HEWITSON




Of the main players in The Real Mr Asia (TV One, 8.35 tonight), journalist David Lomas' piecing together of the Mr Asia story, many are dead.



Those still alive mostly did not want to talk. And who can blame them?



One player, the former heroin dealer Peter Fulcher, who does talk, says of Doug and Isabel Wilson, who blabbed and were subsequently murdered for their troubles, that when they got into "a small amount of bother themselves", they squealed. That the man they squealed on was a murderer and a drug runner is obviously of little consequence.

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The Wilsons were drug users and couriers, so, in Fulcher's opinion, given "their occupation, they probably died of natural causes anyhow".



Lomas doesn't attempt any moralising. He doesn't need to.



The man the Wilsons talked to the cops about was the true Mr Asia, or Terry Clark, or any of his many aliases.



Lomas, who covered the Mr Asia story for the Dominion, has made this doco to coincide with the death of the man known as Mr Asia, Marty Johnstone who, 25 years ago, was found - his hands removed, his face smashed in an attempt to remove his teeth to thwart identification - in a submerged quarry in Lancashire.



There are many events in this yarn about Clark (a police informer and petty thief who went on to become, probably, New Zealand's biggest crime boss) that have elements of what would be farce if it were not for the trail of bodies and fear and lives ruined.



Clark signed into a Brisbane motel, with the ill-fated Wilsons, as Petersen MP. A motel worker, offended that Clark was taking the mickey out of Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, called the police. The motel room was raided and Clark, along with the Wilsons, was arrested. Money, drugs and a gun used to murder a courier were found. The Wilsons went on to talk.



That Johnstone's body was dumped by his best friend in a place used by police dive teams for training is another of those moments.



There is also, as Lomas economically points out, an awful irony in the fact that Johnstone's murder brought about the unravelling of the Mr Asia syndicate, and ultimately, to the death by "natural causes" of Terry Clark in prison.



Nobody believes in those natural causes. Another irony: the man who had snitches murdered had snitched, or threatened to snitch, on IRA members while in prison - hence the suspicion about his death by heart attack.



Johnstone, then and still described as a party boy who lived it up on the proceeds of drug running, was probably always destined for a watery grave. He was early on identified by a newspaper as Mr Asia. Terry Clark was not a man who was going to have the rule of his horrible empire attributed to anyone else.



He was a nasty bugger, which we already knew. It would have been fascinating to hear what Clark's former girlfriend, lawyer Karen Soich, has to say about him all these years on.



The police interviewed have plenty to say about Clark. The police who were paid off by him in Australia are, not so strangely, silent.



And nobody has found out what happened to all of the drug millions - early on there was so much money it had to buried in bags in the bush.



No doubt nobody, despite Lomas' competent efforts to tie up the loose ends of the story, will ever tell.